Out of the mouths of babes (and teens)

Published April 1, 2006

We thought reviewing children’s books would be appropriate for the Easter issue, since children often receive gifts at Easter. Who better to review such books than the people for whom they were made? We chose books appropriate to the ages of the reviewers and recorded their honest opinions.

Song of Creation

Simone Foster, age 6

Song of Creation is a prayer book. The author says the prayers come from the Book of Common Prayer. It tells us that the animals and nature are all praying to God. The eagles and horses, the buffaloes and the dandelions are all saying to praise God “and magnify him forever.” The book didn’t tell a story, it told us prayers. I enjoyed reading it because I liked the prayers. People could be praying while they are reading this book.

I liked the pictures in it, too, especially the book cover because I really like animals and it had lots of ponies.

I think that little kids should read this book because the pictures are pretty and the whole book is interesting.

Dear God …
Little Letter Prayers for Little People

Molly Foster, age 8

This book is a book of prayers and it’s about loving other people even though they’re different. The book is full of different prayers and it has little envelopes with prayers inside them. There are prayers about nature, animals, food, happiness and bedtime. The one I liked went like this: “Dear God: please look after everyone I love. Protect the people who love me and care for me and let them always be happy.”

There are pictures for each section of prayers and they are happy pictures, so when I’m sad, I sometimes look at this book and it makes me feel happy. My favourite section has a picture of a little girl and her teddy bear and bunny rabbit looking up to the moon (which is smiling back at her) and an angel looking down on the little girl. This picture is with a bedtime prayer.

The prayers on the pages are mostly from the Bible, and the prayers in the envelopes are written by the person who wrote the book. I like the last page of the book because you can write the last prayer yourself and put it in the envelope. Here is my prayer: “Thank you God for my family and friends, thank you God for this world you made. Thank you God for the food that I eat and the water that I drink. Thank you God for all the wonderful things you made.”

I think God would like this book if he read it because it’s about sharing and saying thanks to God for all of the wonderful things he made. Also, I think all ages would like this book because it is not just for little kids. Everybody should be saying thanks to God for all the wonderful things he made and if he didn’t make all these things, we wouldn’t have such a nice world and friends and family.

Molly and Simone Foster are the daughters of Anglican Journal editor Leanne Larmondin.

What You Will See Inside
… a Synagogue, Catholic Church, Mosque and Hindu Temple

Florence Peters, age 8

These books teach children about places of worship like a mosque, a Hindu temple, a synagogue and a Roman Catholic church. They are colourful and have lots of pictures. I was wondering why they don’t have a book about an Anglican church.

They tell you the most important things about these places. A mosque looks like an empty room and they found 31 pages of interesting things to say about it. I wondered if a Catholic church used bread and wine for communion like our Anglican church and on page 12 and 13, I found the answer – yes.

I liked the Hindu temple because it is very colourful and people have very nice clothing. It is a very elaborate building. There is a Hindu temple down the road from our house in Milton, Ont. and the book taught me what is inside it. They have many gods. The best part is the feasts, as you see on pages 21 and 23 – stairs of food laid in front of their gods. It made me feel full.

The synagogue is a very serious place but they also have a source of fun like music. The scrolls of the Torah are placed in an ark, a cabinet. I have been to a seder but not to a synagogue yet. They have special holidays like Hanukkah with a special candle holder called a menorah that carries eight candles and a ninth candle that lights the others, called a shamash. Kids play with a top called a dreidel. I have one, too.

Muslim people have a special kind of clock with seven faces. The Muslim people follow the lunar calendar in their religious lives. They show the times for each of the daily prayers and the noon prayer on Fridays. A mosque looks quite different from an Anglican church – which has many seats and an altar.

I learned that all of the places are different and special in their own way.

Florence Peters is the daughter of staff writer Solange De Santis.

Words for the Journey

Beatrice Sison-Paez, age 16

I think that Words for the Journey is intended for teenagers who already have some basic facts about the Christian faith. It talks about stuff that if you weren’t raised a Christian would make you clueless – baptism, communion, Holy Spirit, sin and grace.

For most of us who are part of a generation weaned on the multi-media and an endless choice of books and magazines, receiving Words for the Journey isn’t exactly a thrill. Sure, the form is easy to read – a series of letters written by the authors to their teenage children. But the content can sometimes be a bit much and frankly, not interesting enough for me not to put it down. Try reading the letters about The Church Year, What It’s Like to be a Pastor, Confirmation and The Apostle Paul.

To their credit, however, the authors included some issues that teenagers can relate to such as abortion, gender, friends, family, parents, sex, race and the church, life after death, and money and wealth. I also liked the letter that one author, Martin Copenhaver, wrote to his son Todd about suffering, because it demolishes what most people believe and say about it. He explains how oftentimes people try to create reasons for why things go a certain way, including the unbelievable (and common) comment that God allows people to suffer to “purify” them. The author said that not even the Bible is able to explain why there is suffering in the world. It is just one of life’s mysteries.

While I may have found some parts of the book to be a big bore some parts of it did make me think and it made me think about issues in a new way. The authors were also careful not to dictate their opinions especially on controversial topics; they simply explained why they thought that way and also discussed other viewpoints.

Beatrice Sison-Paez is the daughter of staff writer Marites N. Sison.

Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang
Why I do the Things I Do

Kiki Rowley, age 18

I don’t get offended by things people say about God, but I feel like I should be offended by some of the things John Shore says God says in this book. But I did laugh out loud sometimes, mostly because I couldn’t believe God would say some of the things he does, like he likes Austin Powers, and he’d like to end a hymn with “Yah, baby!” He says other silly things, like he watches Conan O’Brien! God watches TV?? He says 95 per cent of people believe, and he knows it’s correct because he got it off the Internet. God explains what he is in very simple terms, and God is really, really funny in the book.

I never thought of God as having a personality, so the book threw me a bit. But I think it’s a good read for someone who doesn’t know much about God and wonders if believing in him makes any sense. My favourite part is where God says that no one is lonelier than an atheist. He says, “Pray to me, that’s how we communicate.” He says he’ll answer back, and he’s here to love me for me. I knew this inside me, but I had never heard anyone say it. He said he made us because he had so much to love and nothing to love him back. He thinks if he shows himself to people, they won’t do things at their free will, and he wants us to have free will to make our own decisions. God said I was created so he could have a relationship with me.

God’s trying to persuade someone to believe in him, but he isn’t even taking himself seriously, and it doesn’t come across as credible when he doesn’t give himself importance. He says you should believe in the Christian God, because he’s funny. Whoa. It seems like he thinks religion is boring and the only way to get through to someone is to make it humorous, but it takes away from the importance because there is no depth to it.

If I didn’t already believe in God, I don’t think this book would make me believe. But it’s an easy read, funny, and has cool answers to some questions about God.

Kiki Rowley is a daughter of art director Saskia Rowley.


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